Since you don't have formal contract....I suggest you submit this to
arbitration. What the house is worth is irrelevant. What the labor is
worth may be relevant....What the materials cost you have a backup
statement for....You have no agreement for change orders? His mistakes,
his time to complete? Without a contract, not clear he can complain
unless he can show you caused the delay. Sometimes it comes down to do
you want to let him control the process of redress, or you? Do yo want
him filing a mechanics lein and then a laywer jacks up the hourly fees
or do you want to perhaps go to a low or no cost initial session with a
lawyer to determine you best interest? Sometimes, a simple letter from
a lawyer will survice.
Consider, what do you think he OUGHT to get paid, fairly?
Anybody can sue anyone for anything. Doesn't mean its really going to
Unless there's a provision in the contract, tough luck for him and he'll be
laughed out of court.
See previous point.
This has no standing in court.
Most contracts have a time frame specified, so this could work against him
in court. BTW, his written bid with your signature of acceptance is in fact
a contract. Has he even presented you with a final itemized bill? Now, I'm
interested to hear the other side of the story. But if the builder is just
trying to bully his way to more money than he's due, his threats will go
In many states a contractor can add additional charges on to his bill if he
feels that he can justify the additional costs he's been force to endure. I
have no idea what the law states in Wisconsin, and I'm willing to bet you
don't either. First of all he CAN place a builders lien on you property and
make it difficult for you to get a Certificate of Occupancy.
In my opinion, you have two courses of action, one is to agree to his
overages and pay. The second is to retain a lawyer for a consultation.
ONLY a lawyer can advise you as whether he has a legitimate claim or not (he
probably can justify some of the additional cost, but only a lawyer can get
to the heart of his claim.) Don't be foolish, no one here is qualified to
give you a good answer.
He's threatening lawsuit, and you would be very foolish to take this
lightly. He's a professional (whether he's a good contractor in our opinion,
or not), and he well knows the construction laws and his right to claim to
any additional monies due him. Get a lawyer, you will save money in the long
Some years ago the contractor who remodeled my Boston row house into 3
condos, demanded $26,000 extra from me for additional work prior to C of O.
I suggested we go to arbitration, he agreed. I appeared with complete
paperwork, dated notes of conversations with him, copies of letters
detailing his delays, dated sketches, and photos detailing every item added
or subtracted. He appeared with his contract and threats of a mechanics
lien. I won easily as I was prepared. He was not and went away nifonged. I
suggest that you go for arbitration and be over prepared.
I would have long since come to terms with either one of them.
The OP seems reasonable, but he seems motived to put crap in the game too.
(like he's running out of money) I know that's too obvious! but it is
suspect. That is.. you know what I mean
I'm not sure if he's running out of money, or he just doesn't want to
The earlier thread, about the drywall, would have helped a reasonable
person see the error of their ways. A reasonable person would have
listened to all of the voices of experience that a strong contract is
your best protection.
That's what seems reasonable to me.
It doesn't have to be an intentional thing. If there is any wiggle
room, there will always be one that wants to pay less having a
different opinion than the guy that wants to earn more.
Assumptions kill. There should be a Mothers Against Dumb Assumptions
On 6/23/07 4:14 PM, in article
I agree with most you do need to let your lawyer handle your communication
with this character. It's not your fault that HE underestimated and the
contract is the contract and unless it's open ended and he left himself a
way to increase his bid then he's stuck by it. If though he continues to
threaten to sue you then just threaten to COUNTERSUE afterwards for your
complete legal cost to fight that suit as well as possible punitive damages
for stress and duress caused to you. You have already agreed to an extra
amount due to changes you added but not to his carelessness in
underestimating. He is the expert at building (assumed) not you and
therefore it's up to him to know how to bid the job. Once bid, unless he
added a provision for price changes in materials and additional time and
labor caused by your changes then it is him that should incur the extra
It would also be reasonable to expect him to provide you with accounting of
his materials cost from all sources and compare to his initial bid. He can
file a lien against the house but I doubt it would hold given you have the
written contract. Be sure that all communication with him is via certified
letter, return receipt requested. Be sure that on your check/payment you
document and state full and final payment ACCORDING TO AGREEMENT or CONTRACT
for Home at (address). If he cashes the check he's essentially agreed to
the statement on the check. If he doesn't cash the check, threatens to sue
then pay your check to an account you set up specifically for the charges to
the house but do not give him the money. If he sues you he will have to
absorb all cost out of his pocket until it's all settled in court.
Dear Happy Human,
I have not read all the responses here as there are so many, so my
comments may be redundant.
I'm also suprised there is no written contract!!!
He can probably put a lien on your house:
Be sure to verify on your own state website that the laws they cite
here are up to date.
Yes he can sue you. With an oral contract his proof of what was
agreed upon is no better or worse than YOURS.
A fair judge who saw thru this common BS ploy to get more money at the
end after deliberately or stupidly underbidding a job would tell the
builder he was out of luck. But you may not get a fair judge, and you
may get a judge that thinks anyone who doesn't get a written contract
on a HOUSE deserves to be taught a lesson. The judge might think it's
you who needs the lesson. Or the judge might split the difference.
Who knows. I think you'll have a hard time finding a lawyer for such
a relatively small amount of money (in lawyers' eyes). But builders
know these games and play them well. Good luck and next time do not
hire any contractors without a good contract and a lawyer on your
On Jun 23, 3:14 pm, email@example.com wrote:
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